ANNAPOLIS — Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week is underway, meaning big savings for shoppers and a chance for students attending a Maryland college or trade school to win a huge scholarship, simply by posting their shopping experience on social media through Saturday, Aug. 17.

The University System of Maryland (USM) Foundation has announced that it will match the $2,500 top prize provided by the Maryland Retailers Association (MRA) if the winner attends a member institution, meaning a total prize of $5,000 could be awaiting one Marylander.

“The University System of Maryland is pleased to support this year’s Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week, which is an important and effective way that Maryland students and families can stretch their back-to-school dollars,” said USM Chancellor Robert L. Caret.

“We also appreciate the Maryland Retailers Association leveraging this annual activity by sponsoring the #shopmdtaxfree scholarship contest,” Caret said. “To add to the excitement, I am happy to report that the USM Foundation will match the MRA’s $2,500 college scholarship if the eventual winner is enrolled at one of the USM’s 12 institutions or three regional centers — that’s a potential $5,000 scholarship to a lucky USM student. Again, we’re happy to do our part to support this important effort by Comptroller Peter Franchot and the MRA.”“Just when I thought tax-free week couldn’t get any better, one student could now be in line for a $5,000 scholarship,” Franchot said. “All they have to do is take a fun photo or video while shopping, write a creative caption and post it to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #shopmdtaxfree. There’s no application, no interview, no essay — it doesn’t get any easier than that.”

During tax-free week, which runs through midnight on Saturday, August 17, any single qualifying article of clothing or footwear priced $100 or less — regardless of how many items are purchased at the same time — will be exempt from the state’s 6 percent sales tax. The first $40 of any backpack purchase is also tax-free.

This is the third year that the Maryland Retailers Association have provided scholarship money for Maryland college or trade school students — $2,500 for first place and $1,000 for second place — during tax-free week. Previous top prize winners attended Anne Arundel Community College and Cecil College.

Once again, entering the contest is simple. Eligible students simply need to:

  • Take a fun photo or video while shopping.
  • Write a catchy caption. (Be creative to catch the eye of the judges)
  • Post to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and use the hashtag #shopmdtaxfree.

After tax-free week, the MRA will select the two entries that best reflect the spirit of the contest and announce the winners. A scholarship presentation will take place in the following weeks.

Follow me on Twitter @connie_stardem.

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